Judging by reports from some Android device users late last week, the intelligent Google Assistant might eventually be appearing on devices other than the Pixel smartphones.
Following a tip from a reader named Paden Rivers, Android Police reported Friday that some users of the Google App beta channel saw a v6.13 "alpha" update that allowed them to use Google Assistant on their non-Pixel phones. The intelligent assistant could be activated on some devices after pressing the Home button.
Unveiled at Google's I/O developers conference last year, the official version of Google Assistant is currently available only on the Pixel (pictured above) and Pixel XL smartphones, as well as on the smart Google Home device. Google CEO Sundar Pichai described Assistant as part of his company's transition to a smarter and more personalized search service built on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Appearing, then Disappearing, Assistant
Commenting on an Android Police post describing Google App v6.13, Rivers on Friday posted a screenshot of his phone along with the note, "I have cricket idol 4, and with the apk from this post, I have Google assistant." Other readers followed up to report seeing similar results on their Android phones.
Testers on the Android Police team found that Google App v6.13 enabled Google Assistant on about half of the Android devices they tried, while the rest continued to launch Google Now on Tap instead. Among the devices that ran Google Assistant were a Nexus 6P, a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.
Many commenters, including Rivers, later reported that Google Assistant had disappeared from their phones, which then reverted to launching Google Now on Tap when they pressed their Home buttons.
"Most of us already assume Google Assistant will appear on more phones at some point," software engineer Cody Toombs wrote in his analysis of Google App v6.13. "It couldn't remain an exclusive forever."
Now Live: Instant Tethering
Beyond the Pixel and Pixel XL, the next smartphone to come with Google Assistant built in could be LG's G6, expected to debut at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, according to a report by CNET late last month. Mobile World Congress is scheduled to run Feb. 27 through March 2.
In another Google development, the company has started rolling out a feature called Instant Tethering for users of some Pixel and Nexus smartphones. First seen in testing last month, Instant Tethering allows users to share cellular data connections between devices using a Wi-Fi hotspot and one-tap activation through Google Play Services.
Instant Tethering enables users to automatically share data connections as hosts using the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6 and Nexus 6P running Android 7.1.1 and up. Device users can share such connections without hosting if they have one of the above devices -- or a Nexus 9 or Pixel C -- running Android 6.0 and up.